Don’t confuse money with wealth

February 14th, 2023

Nothing elicits emotion like money. It seems like no one is ambivalent about it. Full disclosure — I’m one of those who really likes it. I am writing for a business magazine, after all. What is to follow will not be an exhaustive treatise on money, but merely some random ramblings about, what for some, is an obsession.

“Money don’t get everything, it’s true. But what it don’t get, I can’t use.”
—“Money (That’s What I Want),” Janie Bradford & Berry Gordy

Money, shekels, moola, ching, clamolas, dinero, cabbage, bread, dough, loot, cash, the almighty … you know. There certainly are some fun synonyms for it. I almost forgot a new one, crypto. Or, is that money? I don’t know, but it’s definitely not a fiat currency, so I guess it’s the same as clamolas.

Money confers wealth, power, prestige. It is easy to understand why obsessing over it is so common. Businesses revolve around money, wars are fought over it, relationship are torn asunder over it. It’s no shock that it is perceived by some as the root of all evil.

“Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it’s not happiness I want, it’s money that I want.”
— Unknown

Likely the greatest thing about having a lot of money is the ability to deploy it to make the world a better place. Philanthropy, charity and benevolence all are possible because someone accumulated a bunch of money. I am always amazed by the giving pledge many of our current round of billionaires take.

Many pledge to give away the vast majority of their accumulated wealth. It is easy to understand the value in that. What good is it to die with it?

Warren Buffett, famous gazillionaire, says, regarding great wealth and his children’s inheritance, he plans to give “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” There’s a guy who knows a thing or two about wealth accumulation.

“He who knows he has enough is rich.”
— Lao Tzu

I heard an interview with Jerry Garcia, leader of the Grateful Dead and an extremely successful businessman, in which he was asked how his wealth has changed his life. His reply was, “When I’m eating a bag of pistachios and I come across the occasional one that is really hard to open, well, now I just throw that one away and I don’t feel bad.” Sounds like being rich could be a pretty good thing.

Mid-life crises are a first-world problem. The poor don’t have time for such frivolities. Money certainly is not a solution there, it is likely part of the cause.

“I didn’t start my company to get rich, I started it to get filthy rich.”
— My friend

I suspect more lives are ruined by the quest for great riches than are made glorious by its accumulation.

Please do not confuse money with wealth. While I have a bit of money, I count my wealth by my friendships. In that regard, I am the wealthiest guy I know.

Read the article on Smart Business.

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